Sex, Time, and Power

Sex, Time, and Power

How Women's Sexuality Shaped Human Evolution

Book - 2003
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From the best selling author of Art and Physics and The Alphabet Versus the Goddess comes a provocative new book that will change our views of human sexuality and evolution.

According to Leonard Shlain there is no clear and compelling explanation for the sudden emergence of glib, big-brained Homo sapiens 150,000 years ago. In his latest book, he proposes an original thesis that variations in female sexuality changed the course of human evolution.

Due to the narrowness of her bipedal pelvis and the increasing size of her infant's head, the human female began to experience high childbirth death rates. Natural selection adapted her to this environmental stress by drastically reconfiguring her hormonal cycles. Her estrus with its external signal that she was ovulating disappeared as her menses became the most florid of any mammal and it mysteriously entrained with the periodicity of the moon. These interlocking adaptations led the first women to grasp the concept of a month and make the connection between sex and pregnancy.

Publisher: New York : Penguin, c2003, 2004.
ISBN: 9780142004678
Branch Call Number: HQ23 .S45 2004
Characteristics: xxii, 420 p., [10] p. : ill. ; 22 cm.


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Apr 21, 2011

The problem with Shlain’s argument is that it is not consistent with the findings of many epidemiological studies. If early “hunter-gatherer” Homo sapiens relied on meat as their main source of iron, the bodies of modern humans would be well-adapted to meat-eating. A number of studies – such as those by Dr. Colin Campbell, Dr. Dean Ornish, and Dr. Joel Fuhrman, among others – have demonstrated that humans live longer, healthier lives on average if they do not eat meat. Heme iron is found in meat, but non-heme iron is found in plants, and is well-absorbed by the human body if it is needed. Heme iron, on the other hand, is always absorbed by the human body, whether or not it is needed, which can cause severe problems for those afflicted with hemochromatosis, Canada’s most common genetic disorder. Shlain’s book may be some consolation to those wishing to explain the existence of both omnivorousness and patriarchy, but it is heavily reliant on mythology about “hunter-gatherers” that is purely speculative. Since doctors are not required to obtain training in nutrition, it is not surprising that a doctor would write a book of this nature.

John W Toole Apr 21, 2011

One of the most fascinating books I've ever read, on the subject of "what it means to be human."


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